Joint review with E originally posted here: http://thebookpushers.com/2012/03/20/joint-review-natural-evil-by-thea-harrison/
E: We here at The Book Pushers continue to be mad Thea Harrison fans so when we found out that we had not one but two new stories from her this month much dancing ensued. While I liked the two main characters and thought the overall storyline was interesting, the romance between them didn’t really work for me. The change in setting to the desert and from major power players/serial killers to a different level of “evil” helped flesh out Ms Harrison’s world. And I LOVED the pack of Tarot cards.
MinnChica: I’m such a sucker for Harrison’s Elder Races books, and while there were some things I liked about this story, there were also things I didn’t. When I read a Thea Harrison book, I’ve already come to expect certain things: a strong alpha hero, a sweet and endearing heroine, and a romance between the two of them that leaves me feeling as if all my dreams came true. For me, this story had the characters, but lacked the romance. Like E, I do enjoy that the series of books from Samhain seem to be following the Tarot cards. It’s a neat little side plot that keeps things interesting.
E: Claudia Hunter is a rarity among romance heroines. She is older, doesn’t really have dreams of HEA, and had made her living as one of an elite unit until their last mission ended up costing almost all them their lives. She is the type of woman who is very comfortable with guns and feels like they are part of what she grabs everyday like some women feel about make-up. Yet despite the toughness necessary to do well in her chose occupation she also has a very soft side as evidenced by her refusal to let the “very large dog” die on the side of the road or be humanely put down. She doesn’t have any huge powers but she has trained to use what she possesses to its utmost. I would rather have someone like that on my side then a person with immense power and no idea of how to best wield it. I enjoyed her differences and what that hinted towards women’s roles in the Wyr.
MinnChica: I too enjoyed Claudia. She was different (in a good way) from Harrison’s other heroines. She was strong and independent and at a later stage in life than any of the previous heroines. She wanted to be alone and travel around and drift through life as the wind blows her. I also enjoyed Luis, with what little time we spent with him. It felt as if the majority of the novella was told within Claudia’s POV, maybe because Luis spent a lot of the book in his Wyr form. But once we got the chance to see him, it was obvious he was both a warrior and had a kind heart. He didn’t let Claudia push him away or run him out of town because of their age difference. Instead, he put his own life on hold for the chance to follow her. That had me melting just a bit at the end!
E: Luis, I did like him! He was so determined not to let Claudia go. What I also really enjoyed is that despite his desire to protect and keep Claudia safe he accepted the fact that she could do some things better and by trusting her to do her part he could bring the cavalry to the rescue. Claudia’s reaction to Luis when she first saw him in human form was priceless! He certainly used his obvious physical charms to his advantage when it came to sneaking through her defenses. My favorite supporting character was the “retired” vet. He was smart, patient and I think if Luis hadn’t been who he was, he might have tried to keep Claudia local.
MinnChica: I have to admit though, the romance between Claudia and Luis was very lackluster. This novella felt more like it belonged in the urban fantasy genre than paranormal romance. I didn’t really feel any lasting connection between Claudia and Luis, and while I hope they get their HEA, everything between them seemed to be left very up in the air. I hope that Harrison revisits these characters in the future, because I think it would be neat to see where they go from here.
E: I agree with you MinnChica, this read more like an urban fantasy with the world and adventure taking the central aspect of the story and the romance as a sideline. I was more willing to believe that where the novella ended was the start of Claudia and Luis working towards a permanent relationship not establishing one. It would be fun to catch glimpses of them in later instances to see how the two “warriors” are juggling their rather strong personalities. Like always I enjoyed Ms Harrison’s writing and find her world very enthralling. This one just didn’t provide the romance I am used to coming from her. If you go into reading this with that expectation I think it will really satisfy.
I give Natural Evil a B-.
MinnChica: All in all I had some mixed feelings about this novella. While I absolutely love the Elder Races universe, and enjoyed seeing even more of the Wyr ways, I had certain expectations going into the book that I didn’t think were met. I desperately wanted a deeper connection between Claudia and Luis and was a little disappointed with how their romance turned out. I think that readers definitely need to go into this story shelving any romance-specific expectations and just enjoying the ride. I will say I am SUPER excited to see where the next novella takes us, especially if we get to follow the young Medusa character.
I give Natural Evil a C+